ADHD and PMS

ADHD and PMSPremenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is never pleasant, but when you have ADHD, it can strike louder and harder. During the first half of your cycle, you probably feel ‘normal’, clear headed and productive. Then, as your period gets closer, you begin to feel like Mr. Hyde.

Beside the regular physical symptoms of PMS such as:

Acne

Changes in sleep patterns

Dizziness

Fluid retention

Headaches

Hot flashes

Nausea

Zero energy

Your ADHD symptoms can get much worse, and you can find it difficult to: [Read more…]

10 Reasons Why Pets are Awesome for ADHDers.

pets-and-adhd

Photo by Reanna Evoy.

 

Pets can have very positive effects on your ADHD symptoms.

“Pets, in studies, have been found to lower blood pressure and improve overall quality of life.  Dogs especially help get people exercising – and exercising has been found to be an effective non-medication treatment for ADHD.”  Stephanie Moulton Sarkis PhD NCC LMHC, author of the bestselling 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD. www.stephaniesarkis.com

I asked readers to tell me how their pets affect their daily lives.  Most readers had either cats or dogs. However, rabbits, guinea pigs and fish were also popular.

There were so many amazing replies. Thank you for taking the time to email me!  I compiled the answers into the list below.

1) Self-esteem

Low self-esteem and ADHD tend to go hand in hand. However, having a pet can help to  increase your self-esteem. Having someone who has missed you and is always excited to see you, makes you feel really good.  ADHD pet owners also feel really proud of themselves for taking care of their pets. Sometimes it is the first time they have ever been able to take consistent daily action. This builds their confidence and has a ripple effect on other parts of their lives. Some owners told me that they were barely able to take care of themselves, yet when they got their pet, it forced them to raise their game. Not only did they become outstanding pet owners, they also started taking better care of themselves too.

2) Maintain Structure and Routine

Almost every single reader mentioned how their pets help them with structure.  Having structure, routines and habits  provides a framework in your life, so you can effortless take care of all of your responsibilities and still have time for creativity and fun.  ADHD symptoms can make  setting up structure and maintaining it tricky.  Pets are very helpful in this area!

Here is what Marcia wrote about her dogs and routines:

My dogs: I cannot imagine living without my dogs. I never thought of them as helping with my ADD, but they do keep me on a routine, which I really need. Without a routine, I’m afraid I would push myself too hard and get far out of balance. I tell my dogs they have clocks in them. They get me up in the morning if I forget to set my alarm, and they tell me when it’s time to go to bed at night. If it gets to be 11 pm and I’m not moving towards the bedroom, Liesl barks at me until I do. There is just no option of continuing to sit at my computer or continuing to watch TV while there is a 12-pound dog barking at me! Also, I like to work and often try to continue working past dinner time. This is also not possible, as Gracie lets me know it’s time for dog food and a walk by 5:30 or 6 pm — and she is very insistent. Sometimes I just try to feed them and then go back to work, but then Gracie is up on my lap with her paws on my keyboard and her nose in my face. After dinner is our play, snack, and cuddle time, and if I’m not doing it, I have two sets of intense eyes on me staring and taking turns barking as they sit at my feet. They know how to get me up and moving, and it always makes me feel looked after in a gentle and fun way. 

Marcia Hoeck www.marciahoeck.com

3) Focus on The Now

Lots of readers mentioned that when they are with their pet, there brain slows down, and they are able to focus on the present moment. This has a calming and almost meditative effect.

Terry Matlen describes this effect beautifully:

Having grown up with dogs and having a dog  –  or two –  throughout my life as an adult, I can’t imagine living without one. For me, the connection between ADD and having a dog is about a sense of calmness I get when I’m petting one of them or simply hanging out with them. It slows me down, slows my brain and offers comfort. Of course, people without ADD might say the same thing, but having mine near me, especially after a hectic, stressful day, helps me to focus on something outside of myself. I stop worrying (what did I forget? What should I be doing?), and cuddling with my Elliott or Harper stops my racing brain, allowing me to slow down and connect with another living being- one that has zero expectations of me (for the most part) so that I can enjoy the moment. 

Terry Matlen

www.ADDconsults.com and www.QueensOfDistraction.com

4) Love You Just The Way You Are

Your pets love you unconditionally. They never get mad or judge you even if you forgot to take the trash out. They can see you at your worst, including the parts you hide from other people, and they still adore you.

One reader described it perfectly:

I love my dogs because they see me without my ‘mask’. They see my chaotic life as it really is and not the one everyone else sees, and they still love me for it, unconditionally.

Although I love my sons, I would give my life for them, but I find showing love towards my dogs is easier somehow. You can show them your tears, and they instinctively respond with a calmness that gives you an inner piece, then things just seem a whole lot better.

They don’t mind that I’m disorganized or slop about in my PJs when the ‘wheels fall off’…I just wish I could train them to find my keys though.

5) Reduce Stress

Living with ADHD is stressful! Research shows that it only takes 15 to 30 minutes with your cat or dog or even watching your fish for chemical changes to take place in your body and for you to feel less anxious and stressed. Lots of readers mentioned how their pets helped them to feel less anxious. In one longitudinal study it was found that people who didn’t own a cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack than people who did. Another study showed that cat owners had fewer strokes than non-cat owners.

6) Body Double

There is a term in the ADHD world called ‘body double’. A body double is usually a friend, family member or coach.  This person sits with you while you are doing something stressful, mundane or boring to  keep you on task.

Well in some situations (it depends on the task and your pet), your pet can be your body double substitute. Their presence can reduce your anxiety as you make that difficult phone call or file your taxes.

7) Help with Depression

One reader wrote to say that she credits her dogs in helping her deal with  bouts of depression that she has experienced throughout her life.

Unconditional love, a reason to get up in the morning, companionship, exercise in the form of walks, and getting out into the sunlight for some green therapy, are some of the ways that pets can help with depression.

8)  A Problem Shared

A reader told me that he always felt different from everyone else when he was growing up.  His black cat was the only one he could tell his problems to. Every day his cat learned about the struggles with teachers, friends and homework.  He would stroke his cat, whisper in his ear and then felt much better. A problem shared is a problem halved, and you don’t always need a solution, just a listening ear.

 9) Social Contact

Social interaction is vital to our mental and physical health. However, many ADHDers find social interactions difficult perhaps because they are shy, have social anxiety or are in hibernation in mode. Many people with ADHD also experience a deep loneliness.

Having a dog can help with all of these issues. Studies found that dog owners have many more interactions with other people when they are walking their dog than a non-dog owner walking the same route. Having a dog is an ice breaker. People will come and talk to you, and if you can’t think of anything to say, you can talk about dogs. The social interaction resulting from walking your dog helps you to  gain confidence with  talking to people in other situations.

10) Fun

Pets bring an element of fun to your life in 3 ways.  They force you to go out and have fun adventures together, they get into mischief, or their daily habits and quirky mannerisms make you laugh.

Here are some things that my cat kitty does that make me laugh.

*When sees some food she would like to taste, she licks her lips in advance.

*She always senses when we are heading to bed and runs to secure the best spot on the bed for herself.

*When she is taking a nap, she covers her eyes with her paw as if the light is too bright.

How does your pet help your ADHD symptoms?

ADHD and Weekly Reviews

One of the characteristics of ADHD is not always learning from your experiences. It might be because you are in rush and dashing to the next task or appointment or because you are distracted or perhaps your mind is so full that there isn’t room for one more thing.

 ADHD and Weekly ReviewsWhatever the reason, if you did not get a chance to process and reflect on an event (big or small) you can end up feeling like you are in the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ and each day is a repeat of yesterday.

It could be that you are always apologizing to the same people for being late. Or perhaps you forget that something is not enjoyable until you are in the same situation again, each time promising yourself never again.

Not taking a few moments for reflection also means that there is no time to congratulate yourself when something goes well.

This is why having a Weekly Review is so important when you have ADHD!

Spending time reviewing your week might sound boring and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. It only takes 10 minutes, and it can be enlightening, empowering and a really great way to help you to reach your potential.

Here is a simple ADHD-friendly way to review your week and your life.

1)Pick a time that makes sense for you.  For example Friday afternoons, or Sunday evenings. Make it a recurring event.

2) Create a Word or Google document and label it ‘Weekly review.’

Ask yourself 2 questions:

What worked this week?

What didn’t work?

Under ‘What worked’ write down everything that went well for you this week. Use bullet points so that you aren’t tempted to write long paragraphs. You can, but we want this to be a weekly habit; if you feel like you have to write pages,  procrastination could set in and it won’t get done.

Here is an example:

*Went to bed every night before midnight and was able to get up with the alarm every week day morning,

*Took gym clothes to work and went straight to gym after work… 3 times

* Took a shopping list to the supermarket and only bought what was on the list. Saved about $40 on impulse purchases

Keep doing the things that worked!

Under ‘What didn’t work’ write down the things that didn’t go so well. Also problem solve to think of a solution.

For example,

*Went to the theatre with friends. Forgot how bored and restless it makes me feel.

Will suggest we try doing X instead next time they invite me.

*Impulsively interrupted Sally again. She accepted my apology but seemed offended.

Even though Sally talks very slowly, I will practice focusing on each word she says, (almost like meditation) and wait until she has finished her sentence even if I know the answer.

Your review doesn’t need to be perfect. Don’t worry if you don’t write down everything that didn’t work. Even just a few points will help you to operate differently next week.

Why do I need to write the weekly review?

There are many benefits to writing down your review rather than just thinking about your week. The act of writing forces reflection time. If your weekly review was just a mental one, it might be easy to get distracted or miss parts.

Your review document becomes more valuable as the weeks go by. You get to see your progress, which helps build your confidence and self-esteem. It jogs your memory of things you might have forgotten, and you will also see themes emerge.

If there is a stressful phase in your life, good habits can disappear. Then, when the stress has gone, it is very easy to forget what you were doing -sometimes for years. This document allows you to jump back on the horse quickly.

This week schedule your first weekly review, and let me know how it goes!

 

Nature and ADHD

ICRIA1E6DEDid You Know There is a Positive Link Between Spending Time In Nature and ADHD?

Researchers at the University of Illinois found that 20 minutes in nature (green therapy) helps reduce unwanted symptoms of Adult ADHD among its participants. One of the reasons why green therapy works is because when you and your brain is in a relaxed place, your voluntary attention decreases (goaldirected attention) and your involuntary attention takes over, so your brain can rest and refresh itself.

Good news for city dwellers! the benefits of being outside in a green area were present, whether the participants were in a city park or a remote rural setting.

There are all sorts of ways to incorporate green time into your day, from a gentle stroll to something more adventurous. Here is a list of some activities you can do to while you are spending time in nature.

1. A stroll or gentle walk

2. Bike riding

3. Inline skating / skateboarding

4. Horseback riding

5. Growing a garden

6. Hiking

7. Canoeing

8. Fishing

9. Running

10. Flying a kite

11. Camping

12. Gardening

13. Yoga or Tai Chi (outside)

14. Bird watching

15. Walking your dog

 

Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, some of these activities, you will only be able to do at the weekend, while others are more accessible and you can do them every day. If you aren’t used to being outside in a green setting, slowly integrate it into your life, until its part of your daily routine.

Remember, its important to be in a green setting and not just outside: The greener and more natural the environment, the bigger the reduction in ADHD symptoms.


Action Steps for Spending Time in Nature

1.     Have at least 20 minutes of green time a day (but there is no maximum).

2.     Try every item on the list once, just for fun.

3.     On days that you aren’t able to go outside, notice and compare how you feel and function to those days that you are outside.

How do you spend time in nature?

 

ADHD Checklists. A Simple Way to Feel Organized

checklistA few years ago, as I was flying back to Montreal after visiting my family in England, I was catching a short flight from England to Paris, followed by a long haul flight from Paris to Montreal.

When I climbed on board the airplane in England, someone was sitting in my seat. The air stewardess asked me to wait until all the passengers had boarded then she would find me another seat. Meanwhile, the pilot and copilot walked onto the plane and invited to me to join them in the cockpit (as this was a before 9/11). Sitting in the jump seat, I had the best flight ever. It was a bit like a fair ground ride. As exciting as the experience was for me, it was all in days work for the pilot and copilot. They were chatting to me and each other about regular things such as going to Tescos  that evening to pick up groceries.

Taking off and landing required their full attention. Though before takeoff, they explained they couldn’t chat with me for a while. Then, the copilot pulled out a binder full of checklists and methodically read out each line while the pilot physically checked out each item on the airplanes dashboard.

When I was a nurse, we used checklists too. Before a patient is escorted from the ward to surgery, a nurse uses a pre-op checklist. They check the patients hospital ID, that they have the right notes and xrays, that all jewelry and false teeth have been removed. Each item on the checklist is designed to help keep the patient safe during surgery.

With all the modern technology available these days, a simple checklist can get overlooked because it seems like a basic tool. Nevertheless, basic can be powerful!

As someone living with ADHD, you can use checklists to your advantage. They make you feel organized, competent, support your memory and help you to use your time more effectively.

Here are some suggestions of how to use checklist.

*Have checklists on the front door, with all the items you need for the day. Phone, wallet, keys, lunch, bus pass etc.

*Have checklist of actions for daily routines. For example, your morning routine checklist might include shower, shave, eat breakfast, take meds, clean teeth, etc.

*If you have a hobby where you need to remember a lot of items, a checklist is very handy.

*For tasks you dont do every often, such as taxes, create a checklist. Your list will help you break any resist or overwhelm you feel in starting these task, because you know exactly what actions you need to do.

*At work, there might be multistep tasks, where it is easy to get distracted or lost. Having a checklist helps you see a task through to completion.

*Is there another area of your life where you would like to feel more organized? If so, write a checklist!

Some ADHDers feel that they shouldnt need a checklist to remember to do basic things like getting ready in the morning. Or at work, you might feel silly because no one else has one. Still, there is no shame in having a checklist and just because they dont have one, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t benefit from having one! 🙂 Checklists help you to feel and look highly organized.

Where do you keep your checklists?

You could keep them in a binder like the copilot did. Or you could tape them in convenient places around your home or office. For lists you dont use very often, you could keep it in your computer and print it out when you need it; for example,tax session.

How do you make a checklist?

Some things like your morning routine, you might be able to write it out from memory. For more complicated lists, such as for taxes, have a pen and paper nearby as you are doing the task and write down key steps in real time. Then, you have the list for the future.

After completing your checklist, try it out a few times, and make any alterations. Then, when you have a final list, type it out and keep it in a plastic envelope, or even get it laminated to keep it clean.

In The Checklist Manifesto, author Atul Gawande, identifies some key points to help you draw up an effective checklist:

1.     Have five to nine items. (You dont need to include things you do automatically; just the things that get missed.)

2.     Have all the items on one page.

3.     Keep the list clutter-free.

4.     Use upper and lower case text (as its easier to read).

5.     Choose a font that you can read easily.

What checklists are you going to make?